Dubé (far left) with two members of her tutor group during a visit to the Finnish island of Suomenlinna.

Studying abroad in Finland

I enjoyed the learning style in all my classes—the focus was always on understanding rather than grades.

By Meghan Sired

Kimberlee Dubé, 22, is a Saskatoon native in the College of Arts and Science. She recently studied abroad at the University of Helsinki in Finland. While abroad, she took five classes: Introduction to Modern Atmospheric Science, Aerosol Physics, Aerosol Measurement Techniques, Space Applications of Plasma Physics and Finnish for Exchange Students 

Dubé recently answered some questions about her time abroad and showed us a few photos, too.


What did you enjoy most about the class?

I enjoyed the learning style in all my classes—the focus was always on understanding rather than grades. In some courses rather than submitting assignments we would have weekly sessions to discuss the solutions and the different techniques everyone tried. 

Did you visit any other countries?
I was able to visit Estonia, Latvia, Sweden and Iceland. My favorite was definitely Iceland. While the other places all had an interesting medieval feeling, Iceland just felt like another planet. The landscape was all snow covered volcanic rock—I definitely need to go back and explore further (on a day that is not the shortest of the year).

A big part of Finnish student culture is overalls, where each colour represents the field of study and badges are earned by attending events. There is navy for astronomy, pink for physics and yellow for meteorology.

What are two interesting things about the country that the average person may not know?
There is lots of delicious candy and chocolate produced in Finland—it is not all black licorice. Also, the language is very different from every other in the world (except for Estonian). It uses case endings instead of prepositions. 

What was the hardest or most frustrating part of the trip?
Not being able to speak Finnish was frustrating. Nearly everyone I met also spoke English, but I felt bad asking people to switch for me all the time. It also made meeting Finnish people difficult as it is not possible to just join in on a conversation. And I bought the wrong food at the grocery store a few times since labels were Finnish and Swedish only. 

What was the best meal you had?
The best meal was just lunch in general. The University of Helsinki has subsidized school lunches so students only pay 2.60 euros for a large and nutritious meal. It is buffet style with one main course option each day and as much salad and bread as you want. I rarely had a bad meal there and always left feeling satisfied and ready for class.

Bringing your own food to campus is almost unheard of … I am not looking forward to preparing boring sandwiches every morning again.

Enjoying a popular Finnish pastime, the sauna.


To learn more about the study abroad opportunities offered at the U of S, visit goabroad.usask.ca or drop by the International Student and Study Abroad Centre.